How Online Reviews Can Influence a Buyer

Online reviews are becoming an important measure for consumers to buy products and services. A recent study by Digital Air Strike, a major provider of social media for the automotive industry, revealed that around 70 percent of car buyers utilize online dealership reviews for their purchases. A new Weber Shandwick survey on American adults who purchase electronic products shows that consumers read 11 user reviews on average before making a choice. So for businesses looking to increase search engine rankings, online reviews can help build brand awareness and drive targeted traffic and growth. However, it is important to know how online reviews influence a buyer to make a purchase.

Finding the Desired Product

Online shopping is simple – all people do a search for an item, check out the products available and see which one best meets their needs. Online reviews play a crucial role in this primary search. People usually find it difficult to make a purchase decision by reading about the product and its features and specification from the manufacturer’s or supplier’s website. Customer reviews or professional reviews, on the other hand, provide them with a clear idea about the applicability of the product or service, and determine whether it is actually what they are looking for. A BrightLocal survey on consumer behavior (local business) conducted during January-February 2013 reports that around 85% consumers read online reviews to determine whether a local business is good for them, up from 76% in 2012, as this graph from BrightLocal shows.

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Trusting a Product

When a company website talks about the features of its product, it’s all about how good their product is. An online review by customer or professional would be unbiased, providing potential buyers with opinions based on real-life experiences. Good reviews build trust. The BrightLocal survey says that the proportion of consumers who trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations has gone up from 72% in 2012 to 79% in 2013.

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The survey also shows that positive customer reviews helped around 73% of consumers to trust a local business, up from 58% in 2012.

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Making a Decision

The attitude of the business also plays an important role in influencing buyers to make a purchase decision. Online reviews often help potential buyers understand how a particular business responds to customer complaints, whether they admit their mistakes and whether they take action immediately to resolve reported issues. According to the BrightLocal survey, around 65% (52% in 2012) of consumers make a decision about a product using online customer reviews.

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It is clear that the online reviews influence the buyers in almost all phases of purchasing. Therefore, the businesses need to be very careful about managing their online reviews to attracted targeted traffic. Here are some important ways to manage online customer reviews

  • Facilitate Review Posting – A business should provide the facility to post reviews. Businesses can allot a page in their website or in social networking sites such as Facebook for posting reviews. Make sure that your business is listed in popular review and business indexing sites such as Yelp, Google Places, and so on.
  • Encourage Review Posting – It is a good idea to persuade your customers to write reviews. Ask your customer to write a review just after finishing the purchase through your website. Send them e-mails asking for referrals and reviews.
  • Respond to Reviews – Respond to the points made by your customers so that know you value their opinion. Respond to suggestions and complaints as fast as you can.
  • Manage Online Reputation Better – The BrightLocal survey reveals that in 2013, only 22% of consumers read more than 10 reviews before trusting a business compared to 35% in 2012.

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This large drop in percentage points shows that businesses need to ensure that the latest reviews on their product or service are positive. Bad reviews should be weeded out and fresh, positive reviews generated.

Professional SEO companies offer reliable reputation management and social media optimization services to help businesses build a positive online presence. Their strategies can help enhance your local presence, and drive conversions and sales with positive reviews.